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UCCE advisor John Borba retires after 30-year career helping youth in Kern County

John Borba

John Borba, UC Cooperative Extension Kern County's 4-H youth development advisor, retired on July 1. For over 20 years, Borba has been key to the success of the 4-H program in Kern County, which affords young people an opportunity to test and strengthen their leadership skills while finding and building community.

Borba began working with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources in 1992 as the 4-H program representative for Tulare County. In 1999 he relocated to Oregon to work as an advisor for Oregon State University's Extension team before returning to California in Kern County in 2000.

For 30 years, Borba has focused on improving the lives of young people.

“I appreciated many things about John,” said Marianne Bird, 4-H youth development advisor for Sacramento County. “He was never the ‘sage on the stage,' but rather a thoughtful, competent partner who led from behind. And I loved to watch him teach – asking questions, engaging his audience, enthusiastic about his topic. He was an excellent teacher.”

Bird and Borba worked closely together, supporting and developing statewide 4-H camp programs for 15 years.

“He helped lead an amazing team of 4-H staff, volunteers, youth and academics in some of the most rewarding work of my career,” Bird said.

Together, Bird and Borba prioritized program improvement by presenting research findings at national and international camp conferences, conducting eight statewide conferences, developing camp safety and risk management resources, and authoring two books.

Among the 4-H activities offered in Kern County, Borba oversaw Operation Military Kids for children whose parents were deployed by the National Guard and the Reserves, connecting them with resources, social enrichment, recreational activities and educational opportunities.

To attract more Latino youth, families and volunteers into 4-H, Borba and his 4-H colleagues developed culturally relevant programs. As a result, the number of Latino youth participating in the 4-H program increased more than 250% in three years. The National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals recognized the achievement with its Diversity & Inclusion: Expanding the 4-H Audience Award in 2021.

 

Borba, far right, teaching youth in the outdoors.

“Of the many programs, research projects, and activities that John led, it was his dedication to the Shooting Sports Program that had the most impact on and created significant impact for the youth and families who participated,” said Russell Hill, associate 4-H youth development advisor for Madera and Mariposa counties.

Borba's support resulted in the program – which promotes safety sportsmanship and ethical behavior – serving more than 4,500 youth annually with at least 16 hours of instruction to the more than 1,000 volunteers throughout his tenure. 

“John really took the Shooting Sports program to a level of coordination, improved training and volunteer development, and tracking of data,” Hill said.

While his work focused on youth, Borba's leadership and positive impact were felt among his colleagues as well. Borba, who earned an M.S. in human resources from Chapman University, contributed greatly to the workplace environment and culture.

“I am grateful for being able to work with and for John Borba as the director and advisor in this office for 10 years,” said Carol Heaton, Kern County 4-H office support technician. “It is without question that he treats everyone the same way: direct, considerate, honorable, with understanding and compassion. All this with a keen sense of humor. He is someone I look up to.”

Sue McKinney, 4-H program representative, agreed and added that Borba is the best supervisor she has ever had. 

“He was always quick to share his knowledge,” McKinney said. “In everything he did you could see his deep dedication to the 4-H program. He will be greatly missed by everyone in this office.”

Southwest 4-H Leader Amy Andrews notes that 4-H youth and leaders in Kern County will surely miss Borba's presence too.

“John Borba is a kind, helpful and caring person towards each and every person, whether they are in 4-H or not,” Andrews said.

In retirement, Borba, who has received the prestigious emeritus status from UC ANR, will continue to serve young people by developing a 4-H Avian Embryology Program. It is expected to launch in 2023.

“The goal of this program is to serve as an outreach tool for the Kern County 4-H program and the University of California. It has the potential to reach thousands of youth who would normally not be able to participate in a 4-H club,” he said, explaining that many of the participants are from populations underserved by the traditional 4-H club model.

Borba is hopeful that this program will contribute to enhanced classroom learning experiences and excite young people about animal science and food production processes. He also believes that it will contribute to improved behavior and attendance in school.

Borba, left, carefully passing on an egg to a youth member.
 

 

 

Posted on Monday, July 11, 2022 at 11:04 AM
Focus Area Tags: 4-H

Names in the News

Baur named Western IPM Center director

Matt Baur

After leading the Western Integrated Pest Management Center through the global COVID crisis as acting director, Matt Baur has been named permanent director effective July 1 to lead the center into the post-pandemic future.

Baur, an IPM practitioner and entomologist by training, had been the Western IPM Center's associate director since 2014. 

“Like everyone, the center had to change the way we worked during the pandemic and some of those changes are likely to continue into our future,” Baur predicted. “The region we serve in the West is huge – Guam to Colorado, Alaska to New Mexico – and the remote technologies and virtual platforms we all became familiar with in 2020 can help us connect across those miles.”

Baur's goals for the center are to build on its successes and expand its outreach to serve new areas and audiences, promoting smart, safe and sustainable pest management across the region to protect the people, environment and economy of the American West. 

“The vision of the center is “A healthier West with fewer pests,'” he explained, “and that's something I care about deeply. I have two sons and promoting integrated pest management is one way I help protect their world.”

Baur sees a need to reconnect with the people who research and teach IPM, and plans to attend meetings and conferences for all the scientific disciplines involved in pest management. He also plans to expand the center's connections to communities that have been under-represented and under-served in the past.

“I believe it's vital that we not only listen to but represent all the stakeholders in the West affected by pests and pest-management practices,” Baur said. “There are voices we haven't heard and communities we haven't served well in the past, and I am very happy to have the opportunity to change that. Integrated pest management can be a way to promote environmental and social justice, and as a regional IPM center, we can be leaders in that.” 

Before joining the Western IPM Center, Baur worked as a research scientist at DuPont/Pioneer and was a research assistant professor at Louisiana State University. He received his doctorate in entomology at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, and his bachelor's degree in biology from UC San Diego. He is a licensed pest control adviser in the state of California. 

Baur is based at the UC ANR building in Davis and can be reached at mebaur@ucanr.edu. – Steve Elliott

Shum named director of Business Operations Center

Su-Lin Shum joined UC ANR as director of the Business Operations Center June 14, 2021. Shum will oversee the consolidated Business Operations Center in Davis.

Shum brings over 25 years of experience in financial management, budget oversight, and financial operations and analysis within the UC system and beyond. Throughout her career, she has specialized in finance and business services while serving as the director of finance and business services at Sierra College, the director of budget and finance at the UC Berkeley Library, the interim assistant dean for Finance and Administration at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, and project manager and principal budget analyst at the UC Davis Budget Office.

While living in Canada, Shum served as the executive director of strategy and operations at the Pacific Carbon Trust Environmental Investment Agency and as director of corporate planning, reporting and program reviews/audits at the British Columbia Office of the Auditor General.

Shum earned an MBA from Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University, and a BA from the University of British Columbia.

Shum is based at the UC ANR building in Davis and can be reached at sshum@ucanr.edu.

Kawakami named associate director of statewide programs operations and RECs

Heather Kawakami

Heather Kawakami rejoined ANR as associate director of statewide programs operations and research and extension centers on June 7.

Kawakami, who has worked for UC since 1992, served as chief business officer for the Nutrition Policy Institute in 2017 and 2018. She has also worked in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis, most recently as the business unit manager for the Department of Plant Sciences.

She earned a BA in medieval studies with a minor in Latin from UC Davis.

Kawakami is based at the UC ANR building in Davis and can be reached at hekawakami@ucanr.edu.

Haghverdi receives UCOWR Early Career Award 

Amir Haghverdi

Amir Haghverdi, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in irrigation and water management in the Environmental Sciences Department at UC Riverside, has been selected to receive the 2021 Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR) Early Career Award for Applied Research. The national award recognizes outstanding early contributions in applied research related to water and promise of continued professional growth and recognition. 

Haghverdi's research focuses on developing and disseminating scientific knowledge, practical recommendations, and tools for sustainable urban and agricultural water resources management. His approaches include field research trials, laboratory analyses, and computer modeling to identify opportunities for synergy between research and extension activities. His main research themes include irrigation water management, root zone soil hydrology, and precision agriculture. He is also interested in applications of advanced data acquisition and mining techniques, including remote sensing, GIS (geographic information systems) and GPS (global positioning system) technologies, machine learning, and wireless sensors.

UCOWR is a consortium of academic institutions and affiliates invested in water resources research, education and outreach.  

4-H wins Diversity & Inclusion Award

The 2016-2019 UC 4-H Latino Initiative is the recipient of the Diversity & Inclusion: Expanding the 4-H Audience Award from the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals.

Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty, statewide 4-H director, and 4-H advisors Steven Worker, John Borba, Claudia Diaz-Carrasco, Russell Hill, Katherine Soule and Liliana Vega, and Lupita Fabregas, former 4-H Youth Development assistant director for diversity and expansion, developed, implemented and evaluated culturally responsive program models to attract and retain Latino youth, families and volunteers into 4-H.

The project focused on seven counties – Kern, Merced, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, Santa Barbara and Sonoma – selected to represent rural, suburban and urban communities. The number of Latino youth participating in the 4-H program increased more than 250% in three years. Youth enrollment statewide grew from 1.1% of the school-aged population in 2016 to 1.9% at the end of 2019. All counties achieved parity – within 80% of Latino youth in the population – by the end of year three (except Orange County which withdrew in year two). Read more about the UC 4-H Latino Initiative at http://4h.ucanr.edu/Resources/Latino/.

The NAE4-HYDP Diversity & Inclusion Award recognizes outstanding effort and accomplishments in achieving, expanding and/or sustaining diversity in the NAE4-HYDP organization, programs, and/or audiences.

The UC 4-H Latino Initiative team will be recognized at the NAE4-HYDP Conference in Memphis, Tenn., on November 16 or 17. 

WEDA honors California Dairy Quality Assurance Program

The Western Extension Directors Association presented a 2021 Award of Excellence to the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program - Environmental Stewardship: A Public Private Partnership.

Launched in 1997, the program is led by Deanne Meyer, UCCE livestock waste management specialist, UCCE advisors Betsy Karle, Jennifer Heguy, David Lewis, Jeffery Stackhouse, Nicholas Clark, Randi Black and Daniela Bruno, and Denise Mullinax of the California Dairy Research Foundation. 

The California Dairy Quality Assurance Program is a voluntary partnership between the dairy industry, government and academia. It has been proactive in addressing environmental concerns, setting up a voluntary certification project before the adoption of water quality regulations that targeted nitrogen management. To protect California's air and water quality, more than 700 dairy farms have completed an on-site, third-party evaluation of their facility's manure management.

Uhde named Bloomberg American Health Initiative Fellow 

Katherine Uhde

Katherine Uhde, UC Master Gardener Program coordinator in Santa Clara County, has been selected as one of 50 Bloomberg fellows to receive full scholarships to earn a Master of Public Health through the Bloomberg American Health Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Uhde's project will focus on environmental challenges. She is working with Lucy Diekmann, UCCE urban agriculture and food systems advisor for Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, to develop project ideas that address public health practice needs.

“Generally, the project will focus on environmental health and wellness in Santa Clara County and the Bay Area,” Uhde said.

U.S. Golf honors Harivandi

Ali Harivandi

Ali Harivandi, emeritus UC Cooperative Extension turfgrass advisor, recently received an Ike Grainger Award from the United States Golf Association. 

A UC Cooperative Extension environmental horticulturist based in Alameda County who specialized in turf, soil and water for 33 years, Harivandi served on the USGA's Turfgrass and Environment Committee and Green Section Research Committee. He is recognized nationally and internationally as an expert on recycled water use on golf courses and other landscape sites. His expertise in soil and water quality have been important to the USGA.

Each year, the USGA presents the Ike Grainger Award to individuals who have served the Association as a volunteer for 25 years. These dedicated men and women tirelessly give back to the game through a variety of roles. 

Harivandi was instrumental in encouraging the committee to seek out research to develop warm season grasses with greater drought tolerance and grasses that will some day be able to remain green during the winter in areas where bermudagrass has historically gone dormant.

Garvey wins ACE photo awards

Award-winning image of a monarch egg by Kathy Keatley Garvey,.

Kathy Keatley Garvey, UC Davis communications specialist for UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, won silver and bronze awards in a photography competition hosted by the international Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Life and Human Sciences (ACE). ACE announced the awards June 22 at its virtual conference.

She captured the silver  with a Canon MPE-65mm lens and posted the image at https://bit.ly/3cUx358 Aug. 10, 2020, on her Bug Squad blog. 

“The purpose of my image is to draw attention to the dwindling monarch butterfly population,” wrote Garvey, who creates habitat for monarch butterflies in her family's pollinator garden. “They are on life support.” The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation reports that overwintering monarchs have declined 99% in coastal California since the 1990s. 

In addition to the silver award, Garvey won a bronze award for her photo series of male and female Gulf fritillaries, Agraulis vanillae, “keeping busy.”  Her post, “Fifty Shades of Orange, with a Touch of Silver,” appeared July 13, 2020, on her Bug Squad blog at https://bit.ly/2Q6cU3q

Wilen, Soule and Haviland among Distinguished Service Award winners

The Youth Retention Study Team won the Outstanding Research award. From left, John Borba, Chris Greer, Russ Hill, Mark Bell, Car Mun Kok, JoLynn Miller, Dorina Espinoza, Marianne Bird, Kendra Lewis, Claudia Diaz-Carrasco, and Wendy Powers.

Wendy Powers, associate vice president, announced the 2018 winners of the biennial Distinguished Service Awards on April 11 at the UC ANR Statewide Conference in Ontario.

Sponsored by UC ANR and Academic Assembly Council, the Distinguished Service Awards recognize service and academic excellence in UC Cooperative Extension over a significant period of time. Awards highlight the use of innovative methods and the integration of research, extension and leadership by UC ANR academics.

Awards were given for outstanding research, outstanding extension, outstanding new academic, outstanding team, and outstanding leader. Winners for each category are listed below.

Outstanding Research - Youth Retention Study Team

The Youth Retention Study examined the retention and drop-out rates (nearly 50 percent) of first year 4-H members. The team looked at re-enrollment trends over a seven-year period to understand the phenomena of why youth leave the 4-H program. While the focus of the study was on California, the team has engaged multiple states in this effort to document the national scope of this issue, and used the data to develop tools and strategies for addressing and extending that information through peer-reviewed articles, workshops and training. Two of the factors they found reducing retention were a lack of communication and the inability to understand and navigate the 4-H program. These findings led to development of a handbook for families to navigate the 4-H program and a Project Leader Checklist for implementing the 4-H project experience. 

The Youth Retention Study Team includes

  • JoLynn Miller, CE Advisor - UCCE Central Sierra Multi-County Partnership
  • Kendra Lewis, Academic Coordinator - UC ANR Statewide 4-H Program
  • Marianne Bird, CE Advisor - UCCE Capital Corridor MCP
  • John Borba, CE Advisor - UCCE Kern
  • Claudia Diaz-Carrasco, CE Advisor - UCCE Riverside and San Bernardino
  • Dorina Espinoza, CE Advisor - UCCE Humboldt and Del Norte
  • Russell Hill, CE Advisor - UCCE Merced, Mariposa and Madera
  • Car Mun Kok, CE Advisor - UCCE Lake and Mendocino
  • Sue Manglallan, CE Advisor - UCCE San Diego
  • Kali Trzesniewski, CE Specialist – UC Davis, Department of Human & Community Development

Outstanding Extension - David Haviland

David Haviland, UC Cooperative Extension entomology and integrated pest management advisor in Kern County, won the Outstanding Extension award.

David Haviland has been the UC Cooperative Extension entomology advisor in Kern County and affiliated IPM advisor with the UC IPM Program since 2002. He has developed an exemplary extension program to address the needs of clientele and support continued productivity in the third largest agricultural output county in the nation. Haviland's extension program is based on continuous needs assessment, applied local research to solve problems, collaboration with multiple partners, and extension programming focused on grower and pest control adviser adoption of improved pest management practices. Haviland uses his research outputs to drive his prodigious extension program. This includes 430 presentations to more than 32,000 people, primarily to farmers and pest control advisers. Haviland has developed a national and international reputation through publishing the results of his research in peer-reviewed scientific publications, and by giving national and international presentations.

Outstanding New Academic - Katherine Soule

Katherine Soule, UC Cooperative Extension director and youth, families and communities advisor in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, won the Outstanding New Academic award.

Katherine Soule has been the youth, families and communities advisor since 2013 and director of Cooperative Extension in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties since 2017. Soule has guided programming to increase diversity and reach of the 4-H Youth Development Program. She has more than doubled overall youth participation to more than 16,000 youth in the two counties and increased Latino youth participation by almost 500 percent in less than 4 years. In addition, Soule has built a multicultural, bilingual UC CalFresh staff that focuses on developing sustained engagement with partnering school districts, administrators, teachers, families and other community-based organizations. In the previous two years, the UC CalFresh staff provided nutrition education to more than 17,000 youth; more than 8,500 families and community members attended community events where they received nutrition education; led peer educators in the participation of 4,700 hours of programming and engaged more than 6,600 students in nutrition and physical activities education. The Statewide 4-H Director said, “Despite the large assignment, she has provided incredible leadership in both program areas in both counties.” In partnership with 4-H volunteers and the California 4-H Foundation, she has raised $300,000 annually from grants and gifts to support and advance 4-H programming in Santa Barbara County. This youth, families and communities program also serves as the model for program integration and growth.

Outstanding Leader - Cheryl Wilen

Cheryl Wilen, UC Cooperative Extension area integrated pest management advisor for San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties, won the Outstanding Leader award.

Cheryl Wilen is the area integrated pest management advisor for San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties. Throughout her 23-year career, Wilen's work has represented outstanding leadership through a continual focus on positive changes.  Wilen has been an effective leader in the Statewide IPM Program, ANR and the western region. In this role, she has provided significant input on CE advisor performance and advancement evaluations, represented IPM advisors to UC IPM leadership, and coordinated the annual extension planning meeting for IPM advisors and affiliated advisors. In addition to significant leadership in UC IPM, Wilen was the ANR Strategic Initiative Leader for Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases from 2014 to 2017. She led development of the strategic initiative goals and worked with Program Teams and Workgroups to address these goals. Wilen's leadership style is a direct reflection of her approach to research and extension. If she identifies an important unmet need, then she seeks to address it. Similarly, when she identifies a leadership need that she is capable of meeting, she steps up to help the organization move forward. Her leadership is consistently pragmatic and focused on results.

Outstanding Team - Dairy Quality Assurance Environmental Stewardship Program Team

The Dairy Quality Assurance Environmental Stewardship Program Team won the Outstanding Team award. From left, David Lewis, Greer, Bell, Deanne Meyer, Jeffery Stackhouse, Betsy Karle and Jennifer Heguy.

This team of CE specialists and CE advisors has provided outstanding service to California's dairy farmers as a partner in the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP) through applied research, development of monitoring methods and tools, and implementation of educational programs to help dairy farmers comply with state water-quality law. The team developed the educational component of the “Environmental Stewardship Short Course,” delivering 377 short course workshops (750 classroom hours) throughout the state to date. They developed tools for producers including a lab manual for manure analysis, an e-learning module for sampling methods and an on-line decision support tool. These extension products were based on a prodigious research record including 15 peer-reviewed papers. The Dairy Quality Assurance Environmental Stewardship Program Team is an excellent example of UC ANR academics working together and with government and industry partners under the Sustainable Natural Environment Strategic Initiative. As a result of the team's work, the industry quickly reached a 95 percent compliance rate with water quality reporting requirements.

Dairy Quality Assurance Environmental Stewardship Program Team includes

  • Deanne Meyer, CE Specialist – UC Davis, Department of Human & Community Development
  • Betsy Karle, CE Advisor and UCCE Director– UCCE Glenn
  • Jennifer Heguy, CE Advisor – UCCE Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Merced
  • David Lewis, CE Advisor and UCCE Director – UCCE Marin and Napa
  • Jeffery Stackhouse, CE Advisor – UCCE Humboldt and Del Norte

 

 

ANR reaches out to donors on #GivingTuesday

Last year, 4-H in Placer County was successful in attracting donations through its #GivingTues campaign.
This year ANR will participate in #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season. 

Last year, the 4-H Youth Development Program and UC Master Gardener Program successfully participated in #GivingTuesday campaigns.

“Our goal for 4-H was to raise $10,000 and we exceeded our goal with donations totaling over $13,000,” said Andrea Ambrose, acting director of Development Services. 4-H programs in 17 counties participated. In Placer County, the robotics team got their friends and family involved to promote #4HGivingConfidence on social media, leading Placer County to collect the largest amount for the 4-H Youth Development Program.

Although not as widely recognized as the shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday appeals to people swept up in the spirit of giving at the end of the year.

“#GivingTuesday is a wonderful opportunity for all ANR programs to augment their funding with private donations,” said Ambrose.

A website is being created with links to all of ANR's programs, Research and Extension Centers and extension offices. Donors will be invited to designate the program or location to which they wish to donate. The URL for the #GivingTuesday website will be announced in ANR Update soon. 

ANR will provide a toolkit for county offices and programs to participate. It will include:

  • A customizable letter to send to stakeholders
  • Templates for “unselfies.” Donors may take photos of themselves holding an unselfie sign and share on social media how they are giving.
  • Sample tweets and social media posts
  • Sample thank you note
Posted on Tuesday, October 25, 2016 at 12:29 PM

UC Research to Policy Conference puts science into action

Jason Delborne described the roles of a scientist in policy as outlined in Roger A. Pielke, Jr.'s book "The Honest Broker": pure scientist, issue advocate, science arbiter and honest broker.
A diverse group of UC scientists working on agricultural, natural resources and food issues came together at the First Research to Policy Conference to explore how to use research to effectively engage in public policy. The event, hosted by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, was held on the UC Davis campus on Oct. 12-13.

“We focused on fostering a good dialogue and facilitating co-learning among attendees,” said event co-chair Leslie Roche, assistant UC Cooperative Extension specialist in rangeland management. “We hosted university faculty, statewide CE specialists and academics, and county-based CE advisors—as well as local policymakers and leaders from non-governmental organizations and statewide programs.”

UC researchers who have successfully engaged in the public policy arena provided numerous models of linking research and policy. There were five key take-aways for scientists:

-          Honest broker role – Present policymakers with various policy options, based on sound research. Have a clear understanding of the science behind your messaging. Use qualitative data to tell the story of the hard quantitative data.

-          Active engagement – Be part of informational and oversight hearings. Empower communities to take action and foster community engagement.

-          Build coalitions – Collaboration is imperative. Develop unexpected allies and foster long-term relationships, realizing it may take some time to bear fruit.

-          Disseminate information – Share your data in user-friendly formats. Target local community, Legislature and state agencies to inform policies. Get your science into trainings and continuing education programs. Leverage your coalition to expand the circulation of your research results.

-          Target messages – Develop a strong, concise message to deliver your research. Use an emotional connection – “Old-growth oak woodlands” versus “oak woodland.”

Throughout the conference, speakers highlighted the multiple levels of engagement for researchers in the policy arena, with different roles matching different needs – some take a center stage, while others play imperative behind-the-scenes roles.

Keynote speaker Jason Delborne, associate professor of science, policy and society at North Carolina State University, encouraged engaging the public. “Science is a social process,” he said, noting that community and public engagement is often key to successfully applying research to policy. Delborne also touched on the tension between expertise and democracy, commenting that we can't always resolve it and often we have to learn to live with this tension.

From left, Mindy Romero, Lorrene Ritchie, Thomas Harter, David Lewis and Yana Valachovic, shared what they have learned from engaging in policy.

A diverse set of researchers shared their perspectives from experiences in engaging in policy. The panel included Thomas Harter, Robert M. Hagan Endowed Chair in Water Management and Policy and UCCE specialist in the Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources at UC Davis; Lorrene Ritchie, director of the UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute; Mindy Romero, founder and director of California Civic Engagement Project at UC Davis Center for Regional Change; and Yana Valachovic, UCCE forest advisor and county director in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. They discussed the importance of building strong science-based programs, actively engaging local communities and building coalitions of support.

From left, Amrith Gunasekara, Tina Cannon Leahy, Anne Megaro, Rebecca Newhouse and Juliet Sims described how they use research to shape policy.

Guests from both government and non-government organizations who use research to shape policy shared their perspectives on translating science to decision-making.

“Science is the foundation for developing programs,” said Amrith Gunasekara, science advisor for the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Tina Cannon Leahy, attorney with the State Water Resources Control Board, noted that policymakers and decision-makers are often looking for a clear, “black-and-white” answer, while for scientists, there is “no answer,” but rather information.

Anne Megaro, consultant to the California Senate Committee on Agriculture, and Rebecca Newhouse, consultant to the California Senate Environmental Quality Committee, both emphasized the importance of making sure science is accessible and digestible.

Juliet Sims of the Prevention Institute explained how her organization uses both published scholarly literature and community stories to effectively inform its advocacy platform.

Keynote speaker Rachel Morello-Frosch, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, introduced the concept of moving from “translational research” to “transformational research,” a shift that requires deep community engagement in meaningful ways to effect policy change.

During a breakout session, participants discuss current research that has policy implications.

In the afternoon, four breakout sessions were offered: “Policy structures and opportunities for engagement” with Robert Waste, “Relational approaches to science communication and engagement” with Faith Kearns, “Putting it into practice–UC ANR case studies” with Dave Campbell, Clare Gupta and Lucas Frerichs, and “Navigating policy engagement: Education vs advocacy,” with Adrian Lopez and Kit Batten. These training modules helped participants build technical skills and analytical frameworks for successful policy engagement.

The Research to Policy Conference was a forum to exchange ideas and share perspectives, continuing to bridge the gap between science and policy communities. It challenged attendees to be open to new ways of thinking, shared innovative outreach methods and showcased how research can have an impact in the policy arena.

“The event brought cross-fertilization and co-learning between disciplines – nutrition, forest management, water quality – and there were common themes that resonated for all participants,” said event co-chair Gupta, assistant UCCE specialist in public policy and translational research.

VP Glenda Humiston wrapped up the policy conference by saying, "Good science is vital for good policy. It's great to see UC folks enhancing these skills to bring science together with policy."

For more information on applying research to policy, contact Frerichs, UC ANR government and community relations manager, at (530) 750-1218 or lfrerichs@ucanr.edu, or Research to Policy Program Team contacts Gupta at cgupta@ucdavis.edu and Roche at lmroche@ucdavis.edu

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